In December 2000, Kebra Moore's life was falling into place just as she had envisioned.
Twenty-six at the time, Moore was in graduate school, had just started her first teaching position, had a blossoming singing career and was the proud mother of a 14-month old. On top of that, the wedding of her dreams was only weeks away.
But all of that changed on Christmas Eve. While traveling from New Orleans to Arkansas, Moore, her child and fiance were involved in a car accident in Utica.
"I was the only one injured," she said.
Her injuries were more than she could have anticipated.
"I couldn't move and my back hurt really bad," she said.
Moore suffered a spinal cord injury which left her paralyzed. And while devastated, she was determined not to let it deter her from living her life nor fulfilling her dreams.
"I wasn't going to let it take control of my life," she said. "I had my family and we have a strong faith in God."
That strength and determination not only helped her weather the storms ahead of her, but also has made her a beacon of inspiration.
Moore was recently selected Mississippi's representative for the Ms. Wheelchair America Pageant. It is a title she plans to use to help other women – in as well as out of wheelchairs.
From tragic to triumphant
After the accident, Moore expected things to be back on track in a few months.
"I didn't know how drastically a spinal cord injury could change your life. I thought once I had surgery, had therapy, I would be off from work a couple of months and would go back to school before the school year ended," she said. "When you have surgery you think it's going to fix everything, but for me it didn't.
With the support of her family, Moore not only recovered, but also prospered.
"I read my Bible and prayed to God," she said. "I decided that I was going to take control of my situation.
She and her fiance had planned a big wedding in Beaufort on Jan. 29, 2001. A week after the car accident, they married in the hospital. Now a new wife and a mom, Moore was focused on the new path ahead of he
"I realized that I'm 26, I still have my whole life ahead of me," she said. "I decided that I was just going to deal with it as it comes and the best way I possibly could."
Moore and her family returned to New Orleans, where she underwent inpatient rehabilitation for four months. A month later, the family moved to California, where she underwent outpatient rehabilitation three days a week.
In 2005, Moore returned to the classroom for two years. She then worked as a program technician at the Department of State Architect, and later in 2008, she began work for the Social Security Administration, where she remained four years
In 2012, Moore moved to Meridian with her husband, Master Sgt. Marquis Moore, who is stationed at Marine Aviation Training Support Squadron One on board NAS Meridian, and their two children, Marquis Jr., 13; and Maurice, 11.